Recent Match Report – Zimbabwe vs Pakistan 1st Test 2021


Pakistan tighten grip on contest with steady acceleration in afternoon session

Lunch Pakistan 261 for 4 (Fawad 50*, Rizwan 13*) lead Zimbabwe 176 by 84 runs

Following the turgidity of the first session, the events of the second seemed positively slapdash. Pakistan raced along at more than three runs an over while Donald Tiripano got himself on a hat-trick at one point. Imran Butt fell nine runs short of a hundred, Fawad Alam got to a half-century and Babar Azam lasted just one delivery, his first golden duck in Test cricket. All this while, Pakistan’s grip over the Test match grows ever tighter, and with the lead stretching to 84 with six wickets still in hand, Zimbabwe are getting closer to being batted out of this contest.

The second session appeared to be a chance for Azhar Ali and Butt to kick on after lunch, but Zimbabwe enjoyed the better of the first half hour. Azhar was undone by the surprise of extra bounce from Tiripano, with gully pouching a straightforward catch. Much more notably, Babar, in his first away Test as captain, fell to the most transparent of traps. Mid-on was brought up close as Tiripano bowled straight, inducing a drive which went to Roy Kaia, stationed there for that purpose. Zimbabwe had suddenly removed the two most prolific batsmen in the side, and a tiny glimpse of hope emerged.

It was perhaps fitting that Fawad would be the man to extinguish those hopes. No stranger to slow, attritional cricket when it seems no one might be watching, he dug in and began to ensure no bowler was allowed to settle. The routine of bowlers going through entire overs – spells, even – without needing to make an effort to be economical began to be undone. He used his feet to manipulate the field, work singles, and punish any loose delivery, especially when the spinners bowled a shorter length. He got off the mark the same way he got to his half-century, with a four off a spinner. The first was a smart cut past backward point, the one that got him to the landmark an effortless flick back past the bowler that pierced mid-off and mid-on perfectly.

Butt at the other end chipped away more cautiously, eager to get to the three-figure mark he evidently had on his mind all session. It didn’t appear much would stop him, before Richard Ngarave finally shaped one away that took his outside edge. It brought the left-armer his first Test wicket, denying Butt his first Test hundred in the process.

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